Tim Mathieson, the partner of Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, has inexplicably responded to a question no-one ever asked with an answer no-one ever expected.

What type of doctor should you look for if you are going to get your prostate checked?

Asides from a professional one, Mathieson also suggests ensuring the medical practitioner is a "small Asian female doctor".

In just a few words, Mathieson managed to potentially offend a huge majority of the world's population in just three words.

In his defence, the poorly conceived comments were in the context of promoting awareness of prostate cancer.

At a reception for the West Indies cricket team at Gillard's official residence in Canberra, he said: "We can get a blood test for it, but the digital examination is the only true way to get a correct reading on your prostate so make sure you go and do that, and perhaps look for a small Asian female doctor is probably the best way."

Gillard, who became in internet hit last year with an anti-sexism rant against an opposition MP, can be seen in the background, her face practically turning to granite.

She told ABC radio after the gaffe: "Obviously, there's various ways of getting that message across, but he's certainly acknowledged that the joke cracked last night was in poor taste."

Mathieson later said in a statement: “It was meant as a joke and on reflection I accept it was in poor taste,” he said in a brief statement issued by the Prime Minister's office.

“I apologise for any offence caused.”